VOB News February 2010

Photo of the Statue of Liberty transposed over the San Diego Bay
Photo of the Statue of Liberty transposed over the San Diego Bay

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

with conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

a mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame,

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she

with silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

The poem above, by Emma Lazarus, is inscribed upon a bronze plaque on the interior of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.   I have always been intrigued by its wording “..give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse … send these to me!” What a prophetic message similar to Isaiah’s “…bind up the broken hearted to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound…”

No matter how one views illegal immigration, it is hard to see what we see every day and not respond in some small way to help those in desperate situations.  Such as Frank who, after being deported, has now overcome his drinking problem but remains separated from his family in the US where he spent most of his life.  Or Juan, who was 2 months old when his parents brought him to the US and now living in a culture and language that is foreign to him, birthplace or not.  Maria had a green card for most of her adult life, working for a family in their home, taking care of their children while she raised her own kids who were US citizens.  Maria returned to Tijuana to take care of her sick mother before 9/11 and was not permitted to return to the US afterwards.  Recently she asked me to call her son for her, as she was worried about him, and wanted him to know that she was fine.  Maria, for reasons unknown, died 2 days later.  My second call to her son was certainly more difficult!

I am reminded of a friends observation while participating in our street outreach with the many deported immigrants, when she commented “setting all aside and making the lives of these strangers a little more bearable with kindness, a little conversation, and some food”.

February 2, 2010 (San Diego AP) – A statewide report on immigrants released this week reveals that 23% of residents in San Diego County are immigrants—and nearly half (45%) of those immigrants are citizens. Of all children in the region, 43% have at least one immigrant parent. These and other intriguing findings are based on data collected in the 2005-2007 American Community Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau.

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